Changes proposed on provincial election fairness, electoral boundaries

Dec 7 2017, 2:52 am

Two acts have been introduced that are aimed at changing Alberta provincial elections.

The Act to Strengthen and Protect Democracy in Alberta and the Electoral Divisions Act will address fairness in political campaigns, place rules on third-party advertisers, and change the boundaries of some electoral districts.

According to a release from the Government of Alberta, if the Act to Strengthen and Protect Democracy in Alberta is passed, third-party advertisers would be limited to spending $150,000 on advertising, and a cap of $3,000 when promoting or opposing a candidate in any one electoral division.

The act would also give enforcement tools to a new Election Commissioner to combat “dark money politics,” according to the release.

For voters, it would add an additional advance voting day to provincial elections and allow for mobile polls to be set up at emergency shelters, support centres, post-secondary institutions, and other public buildings.

Government advertising would be restricted during the election period, and taxpayer money would be prohibited from being used in influencing elections.

The Electoral Divisions Act would create three new ridings, as well as consolidate ridings in three other areas.

The new divisions would be an Airdrie-Cochrane division, a Calgary-North East division, and an Edmonton-South division.

Due to low population, divisions would be consolidated in the areas near Drumheller, Lac La Biche, and Whitecourt.

The changes were recommended by the Electoral Boundaries Commission, which was created in October 2016 to suggest changes to districts prior to the next provincial election.

“While some may not agree with the recommendations, it is important to all Albertans that the new boundaries were decided by an independent body,” said Brian Mason, the minister of transportation and government house leader, in a release.

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